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Introduction to Tryon County of 1772-1784

The vast area of Central and Western New York known as Tryon County was created from Albany County on March 12, 1772. The area which comprised Tryon County was essentially all of NY State west of historical Ulster, Albany, and Charlotte Counties; and no western limit was specified. At that time Schenectady was part of Albany County so the eastern boundary lay approximately five miles west of Schenectady, into the Mohawk Valley and included the Western Adirondacks and the areas west of the West Branch of the Delaware River to the south. Today some 37 counties have been created from what was Tryon County. Upon its creation the county was a hotbed of pre-Revolutionary War activity, the scene of dramatic intermingling of cultures, and was to become the focal point of earnest westward expansion in the decades following the Revolution.

Among the first Europeans to visit the area were the French missionaries, including Isaac Jogues, who was martyred in 1645 along the banks of the Mohawk. Dutch fur traders had earlier established trade relations among the Iroquois of the Mohawk Valley west to Oswego on Lake Ontario. This trade, however, did not include settlement by many Europeans. Until the coming of the the palatine settlers started in 1722, the Mohawk Valley remained essentially the domain of the Iroquois Confederation. The arrival of the dynamic figure of William Johnson, in 1738, marked a new era in the Mohawk Valley. For the last 24 years of his life Johnson lived in and controlled most of the Mohawk Valley. He became a trusted friend and ally of the native population, winning their respect and affection. He was a staunch supporter of the crown, moderating revolutionary discontent in the years leading to the Revolution. It was through his leadership that the county was created. He sought further autonomy from the politicians in Albany and became so well accepted by the Mohawk Tribe that they were to become a major impediment to revolutionary control and success in the valley.

Following the death of William Johnson in 1774 sympathies of the settlers were sharply divided between the revolutionaries and the crown. New York as a whole was to remain the most loyal of all the colonies. Bitter regional disputes erupted as the Committees of Safety were formed and harassment of the Loyalists became routine. By January 1776 with the conflicts in New England having set the stage for the inevitable war, most of the Loyalists of Tryon had fled to Canada.

Through the early years of the war the Committees of Safety held the responsibility for a number of Governmental duties which included the establishment of militias, maintenance of civil order, raising revenue, supplying the military and suppression of Loyalist activities. The Committees were discontinued in 1778 upon creation of the first NY State Legislature.

The Revolutionary War disrupted all aspects of life in the Mohawk Valley. Many villages were laid to waste by British and Indian attacks and many civilians were murdered. Major military activities included the siege at Fort Stanwix, the battle at Oriskany in 1777, the Cherry Valley Massacre in 1778, the 1779 punitive expedition against the Iroquois led by General John Sullivan through the Finger Lakes Region, and the 1780 raids by Sir John Johnson through the Schoharie and Mohawk Valleys and continuing in 1781. The end of the war brought great relief to the residents of Tryon County. It is said that the county was left with 12,000 abandoned farmsteads and counted 380 widows and 2000 orphans.

Following the Treaty of Peace in 1784, Tryon, which had been named for the hated English Governor of New York, William Tryon, was quickly renamed Montgomery County to honor General Richard Montgomery the hero of the Quebec Expedition.

George Morris
December, 1996
© 1996 All Rights Reserved

To the Formation Of Tryon County

Maps of Counties, 1775, 1790, 1800

Petition to Create County on the Olive Tree Web-Site

List of names on a Petition sent to New York Provincial Legislature in 1771. Petition supported splitting Albany County into two, thus creating a new county called Tryon County after Gov. William Tryon.

Back to Tryon County History Page

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